Islamic Mahdi = Second coming of Jesus?

What or who is the Mahdi? I thought it was some kind of messianic prophecy, but I am a little unclear on specifics. I was reading an inflammatory sermon from PA TV at http://www.memri.org, and the imam says this:

Please, I beseech thee, do not comment on the rest of the sermon (which is highly inflammatory and will get this thread tossed very quickly into GD). We have enough of those threads already.

I am solely interested in the Muslim tradition of the Mahdi. Is it universally accepted? Is it widely thought to be the second coming of Jesus? What is this story about Jesus killing the Jewish messiah? It doesn’t seem to be a fair fight, what with the Jewish messiah being human and Jesus being God and all of that. I mean, Jesus could just drop a church on him or something…

Also, anybody know what the plural for smarty-pants is? I vote for smarties-pants.

Let me please introduce myself…

lol Muad’Dib :slight_smile:

my understanding is that the mahdi will come just before the end of the world for non islams, to destroy the jews etc. there have been several claiments to the post of mahdi but guess they have not yet found the real one.

“The term “MAHDI” is a title meaning “The Guided one”. Mahdi is a normal man who is going to follow the true Islam. His name will be Muhammad and his father name will be 'Abdullah. He is a descendant from Ali and Fatima (daughter of the prophet Muhammad (pbuh)) so he will be descendant from al-Hasan or al-Husain. Mahdi will be very just and his capital will be Damascus. Allah told us that Jews will master the world two times (we live now 1998 during the first one) and Mahdi will appear between those two periods and will rule through the last one. Mahdi is NOT a prophet but he is the final Rightly Guided Khalifa. Mahdi will lead Muslims to a great victory against the Christian Romans (i.e. All the white Europeans including the Americans). This great war is called al-Malhamah al-Kubrah or Armageddon. It will end up with a great victory to Muslims against Romans after six years. Muslims will take over their capital Rome (this can be any city). In the seventh year, the Anticrist will apear and a greater war will start between Jews and Muslims for 40 days (longer that usual days) and will end when Jesus (pbuh) will come and Muslims will kill all Jews. All people will convert into Islam. Peace will pervade the whole world” from http://islamicweb.com/history/mahdi.htm

see http://www.al-islam.org/mahdi/nontl/Toc.htm for a more scholarly discussion

Just want to note that the interpretations of eschatology given by some extremists do not speak for all Muslims, any more than the “Rapture” crew speak for all Christians, etc.

I always thought it was Laurence Olivier :wink:

It is blasphemy in Islam to suggest that Jesus was God, or that Allah would ever take human form.

But Edwino, I think this is a case of Mahdi being what this Imam wants Mahdi to be.

Tamerlane may know more on this, my impression has always been that most Mahdist literature is generally theologically suspect in main-stream thought, so you’re going to run into some oddball things.

In re the link, I read over the Arabic. The writer appears to be shi’ite and has a habit of quoting Hadith in fragments (never a good sign) and includes the dodgiest ones as well.

Think in analogies to Xtianity, who do you find selectively quoting traditions, bible, etc, including dodgey stuff…

Strikes me (I’m no religious scholar so this is just my gut) that we have al-Qaeda-esque Shi’ite writer here.

However, it does explain the extremist current take on Mahdi.

Edwino: Well, it is all rather complex and I probably am not the person to do the topic justice. But I can throw out a few items:

  1. The Mahdi is far more central to Shi’a eschatology than it is the Sunni.
    1a) The Imami Shi’a ( i.e. the current mainstream Iran, s.Iraq ), believe that the Mahdi will be Muhammed al-Muntazir ( called al-Mahdi ), who was supposedly occultated in 873.
    1b) The Is’maili Shi’a believe that it will be Is’mail, who was supposedly occultated by God in 760.
    1c) The Zaydi Shi’a ( N. Yemen, ~8 million followers) reject the concept of the Hidden Imamate ( occultations ) and the Mahdi altogether.

2)All information on the Mahdi are derived from the Hadith, not the Qur’an.
2a)The Shi’a and Sunni versions of the Haith differ, with the Shi’a version lending much stronger ( but obviously not unambiguous ) support for a Mahdi descended from the line of Muhammed via Fatima.
2b)The Sunni version is a matter of debate - Apparently two of the most respected compilers of the Sunni Hadith, Muhammed ban Ism’il Bukhari and Muslim ban Hajjaj Nishapuri, did not include the Mahdi tradition among their compilations. However several other Sunni scholars did, but they have been challenged as having weaker legitimacy. Nonetheless, the concept of the Mahdi seems to be widespread and at least somewhat accepted in the Sunni world. However…

  1. Sunni eschatology differs on who the Mahdi will be. One line of thought is that he ( always male ) will be a normal man born shortly before the end times ( some similarity to the notion of the Jewish Messiah ). Another line of thought is that he has been living, unchanged, among the faithful for many centuries ( this may be my confusion with Shi’a tradition, however - I believe one tradition is that it was Muhammed ban Hanfiyya who has been living on Mt. Radwa since the 8th century ). Some think he will be synonymous with Jesus, others say they will be separate, with Jesus being a folower of the Mahdi. It all gets rather complicated.

  2. There have been a number of ‘false Mahdis’. The most famous of course being Shaykh Muhammed Ahmad ( 1848-85 ), The Mahdi, who founded the Mahdist state of the Sudan.

4)Islam generally, Sunni and Shi’a, does have that rather Christian-like concept of an apocalyptic End Times. But what role, exactly, the Mahdi plays in them, other than an amorphous one where he will ‘fill the earth with justice and equity’, seems a bit unclear to me. Although I’m sure there are some bloodthirsty interpretations as to how he’ll do that, I believe that none of it is spelled out explicitly. That anti-Jewish screed is likely, as Collounsbury suggested, a combination of “imaginative” reading and wishful thinking.

So short answer? It’s kind of a mess. A mass of conflicting traditions, that aren’t even necessarily unchallenged even at their base ( some Sunni scholars think the whole notion didn’t surface until some decades after Muhammed’s death - Which would make them, de facto, irreligious ), though they do seem widely held in the Muslim world in one fashion or another.

Like I said, I’m probably not the best to tackle this one :slight_smile: .

  • Tamerlane

Thank you for the straight dope on this one, guys. I didn’t realize what a big can of worms it was, but I should have known. The little I know about Kabbalah interpretations, biblical literalism, Christian apocrypha and Gnostic Christianity should have made me realize that an analogous situation probably exists throughout Islam. It was just that some of the language surprised me – not because of the extremism, which has become relatively run of the mill after reading MEMRI for more than a few mintues – but the line “Jesus’s pure hands will murder the false Jewish messiah.” It was nice to get a cogent primer on the amtter.

Anyway, when I was still practicing Judaism, I identified most closely with the Reconstructionalist movement, which deemphasizes the wait for the messiah and the goal of rebuilding the Temple. Strangely analagous to the Mahdi quagmire that you see…

Edwino: Assorted links, of a semi-random nature.
A general site on Islam, that briefly summarizes Islamic eschatology ( down the page )

http://www.ldolphin.org/islam.shtml

Here are some of the Hadith that comment on the Mahdi.

http://answering-islam.org/Index/M/mahdi.html

And here is much of the same material interpreted by the Ahmadiyya, who believe that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of India ( 1835-1908 ), was, in fact, the Mahdi ( this one goes into the question of whether the Mahdi will use force or not ):

http://www.aaiil.org/text/books/mali/ahmadiyyamovement/mahdi.shtml

A long Imami Shi’a explication, in question and answer form ( note that he posits world dominance by Muslims, but continued protection of Jews and Christians under the new order that will be established - I cribbed a bit from his answers in my earlier post ):

An article that seems to think that the founder of the Wahabi faith was the anti-Christ ( Dajjal )!:

http://www.shia-network.com/featured-article/enemy.shtml

A Naqshbandi Sufi view:

http://www.isim.nl/newsletter/4/isim/1.html

So - Lots o’ theories :).

  • Tamerlane

Edwino: There are definitely lines that talk about Jesus ( mostly ), or the Mahdi ( sometimes ), or both ( if they are in fact synonymous ) killing the Dajjal ( anti-Christ ). But the Dajjal has been identified with any of a number of figures throughout istory and will probably continue to be identified with an even greater number as time goes on ( I think Sharon got an honorable mention in this regard lately ).

I have seen some mention of the Dajjal being ‘The King of the Jews’, but again, I suspect it is a fundamentalist wet dream. While looking up the above articles I came across this one on Islamic fundamentalism that talks briefly about the anti-Jewish paranoia among the extremists:

http://meria.idc.ac.il/journal/2001/issue4/jv5n4a2.htm

  • Tamerlane

p.s. - Also came across an article about the mathematical perfection of the Qur’an ;). But it’s rather far afield, so I guess I won’t post that one :D.

Oh and I should correct myself - Some of those ( perhaps disputed ) Hadith apparently do spell out in some detail what the Mahdi will do. But as can be seen from the Ahmahdiyya link in particular, even those can be interpreted in all sorts of ways.

  • Tamerlane

Tamerlane:

I ran across a book talking about the “mathematical perfection” of the Quran; however, I can’t recall the name of it. I perused it at a local bookstore and was struck by some of the rather odd things it had to say, especially in the preface. It appeared to say that not all of the Quran was correct; i.e., that there was some addition to it and that there was another prophet after Muhammed.

I daresay that particular group doesn’t get much credence from Dar al-Islam.

Monty: Well, since you so graciously gave me an opening :smiley: :

http://www.submission.org/math-ap1.html

  • Tamerlane

Tamerlane:

That’s the one!